Hans de Koster

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Hans de Koster in 1972

Henri Johan "Hans" de Koster (5 November 1914 – 24 November 1992) was a Dutch politician. He was born in Leiden, and died in Wassenaar.

Early years[edit]

Hans de Koster graduated from Higher Civic School and earned his bachelor's degree in economics in Amsterdam. He then continued his studies abroad.

He worked at Koster & Co in Leiden, a flour mill renamed in 1928 as N.V. De Sleutels (now Meelfabriek).

World War II[edit]

During World War II, de Koster led the espionage group "Peggy". He promoted plans to assist the Dutch population and for Dutch economic recovery and he was in clandestine communication with Britain.

De Koster was friends with the Dutch royal family and especially with Prince Bernhard.


In 1946 he became director at N.V. De Sleutels, like his grandfather. In 1964, Keys was acquired by Meneba, and for three years de Koster was a board member.

In the De Jong cabinet (1967-1971), he was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Dutch: Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, VVD). He was subsequently defence minister in two Biesheuvel cabinets (1971-1972 and 1972-1973).

In 1972 de Koster presented the Rijckevorsel Commission report which proposed changes in the Dutch armed forces, including a major reduction in the army and transfer of Air Force roles to NATO partners. , build a training area at Ter Apel and the first step towards a volunteer professional army.

After his time as minister, he was a member of the Dutch House of Representatives and spokesman on Foreign Affairs of the VVD (1973-1977) and from 1977 to 1980 he was a member of the Dutch Senate. From 1978 to 1981 he was Chairman of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.

From his personal archives, released in 2005, it was revealed that he breached the confidentiality of the private fixed Parliamentary Committee for Defence in June 1975, and the prince was informed about the developments. He also knew through a filibuster during a meeting of the committee to avoid research into the prince.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Preceded by
Willem den Toom
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Henk Vredeling